SCARLATTI: Sonatas K. 438, 239, 513. 44, 474, 475, 432. 87, 245, 447, 322, 323, 492, 455, 478, 435, 78, 427, 135.
Eri Mantani, piano
MDG 904 1987 TT: 77:52

WAGNER: The Flying Dutchman
Anja Kampe (Senta). Jane Henschel (Mary). Kwangchul Youn (Daland). Christopher Ventris (Erik). Thomas Russell (Steersman). Terje Stensvold (Dutchman). Bavarian Radio Chorus. North German Radio Chorus. Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra / Andris Nelsons, cond. TT: 61:24 & 74:33
RCOA LIVE 14004 (2 disks)
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Among he most memorable performances I know of a Scarlatti sonata is Martha Argerich's encore playing of K.141 from the 2009 Verbier Festival available on DVD (REVIEW). (You can see it on YouTube). This was a magic performance in every way. Other great pianists over the years have recorded a few of the sonatas and , and there have been several complete recordings, both on piano and harpsichord. On SACD there are disks featuring pianists Yevgeny Sudbin, Vincent Boucher, and the MDG label has disks by Stephen Marchionda and Christian Zacharias. That label now offers a third multi-channel recording, this one featuring young Japanese pianist Eri Mantani. She has won numerous awards and prizes, given countless recitals and concert appearances. She has made few recordings, but you can see her on YouTube. There are many videos of her playing Bach, Chopin, Liszt, Prokofiev and Scarlatti, whose music is featured on this fine new SACD. She plays a wide selection of the composers 500-plus sonatas, nineteen in all. These are excellent in every way, in these recordings made in May 2016 in Abtei Marienmïnster Konzerthaus.

The idea of a complete Wagner opera, in this case The Flying Dutchman, performed in Amsterdam's Concertgebouw, is tantalizing, but here is somewhat disappointing This concert performance was presented May 24 - 26, 2013, and although it has many pluses, overall the singing is not consistently satisfying. The crucial role of the Dutchman is sung by Terje Stensvold, a distinguished singer when in his prime, but at the time of this recording he was 70 and it shows. The best singing is from the two sopranos. Kampe is one of the leading Wagnerian sopranos of our time (she also cab be heard in Bryn Terfel's recording of Dutchman). Jane Herschel has excelled in a variety of roles and is at her best here. The choruses are outstanding. It is a pleasure to hear the Royal Concertgebouw in this music, but overall this version cannot match the glories of many classic recordings that have a firm, solid Dutchman. Over the years there have been many recordings featuring leading bass-baritones, and if you'd like to hear near definitive performances, check the Met broadcast of 1950 with Hans Hotter and Astrid Varnay (REVIEW) , or the Met performance of 1960 with George London and Leonie Rysanek (REVIEW). This new version is handsomely packaged, and a complete libretto is included.

R.E.B. (May 2017)

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